Behind the Scenes: Ludus Presents Sweeney Todd

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Something sinister comes this way... inside the PUD Auditorium?

Okay, be honest. Who here even knew that the Snohomish PUD building has a top notch auditorium available for rent?

Ludus Performing Arts, that's who.

For the past five years Ludus has been performing musicals for the public featuring kids 13 to 21 years old, primarily at said PUD Auditorium. Their newest show Sweeney Todd is sure to give you chills, but not because of the subject matter (which will leave you laughing and cringing all at the same time).

It's because these kids showcase some real, raw talent.


It all started in 2013 in Lake Stevens when the Ortiz family decided to aid their sons in their dramatic dreams of starting a theater group for people their age. What began as after-school skits and other small performances has developed into a full-blown theater non-profit with roughly three professional shows a year.

The mother, Cheryl Ortiz, acts as the producer. The father, Mario Ortiz, acts as the set designer. The oldest son, Steven Ortiz, is the director of Sweeney Todd. And the youngest son, Erik Ortiz, stars as Sweeney Todd, one of his first leading rolls at Ludus.

Simply put, Ludus is a family affair, no matter what family you are from. At opening night, the lobby was flooded with volunteers, most of which were parents of the kids involved in the show.

From left to right: Steven, Cheryl, Mario, and Erik Ortiz.

From left to right: Steven, Cheryl, Mario, and Erik Ortiz.

All the costumes, light design, set building, line-memorizing, and more were completed in just six weeks, staying withing a $40k budget. Mario recounted that some nights he would get off work, and he and other volunteers would continue building set pieces until midnight just to stay on schedule.

Above all the set pieces and props, one prop stands apart as their pride and joy: Sweeney's barber chair.

"Some shows black out the stage when Sweeney kills so the actors can disappear," director Steven said, "but we wanted the real thing." Like many of the props used in the show, the chair was made entirely from scratch, and is completely functional. As soon as Sweeney slits a throat, he is able to swivel the chair towards a hidden trap door, tilt his victim back, and slide them off stage into "the basement."

Full disclosure, they offered to let me sit and slide down the shoot. I, uh, had to decline.

Aside from having amazing sets and props, the kids that make the show come to life are bloody brilliant. From the kids dressed in black hastily rushing sets on and off stage to the lunatic actresses screaming in the audience, it's obvious these kids love being part of of Ludus.

There are a lot of great theatrical moments in this show, including eighteen year old Emma Hanson, who was cast as Mrs. Lovett, and her spot-on impersonation of a laughing seagull, dazzling duets between Anthony Hope and Johanna (played by Riley O'Shea and Tori Cardin), and the corny fake blood streaming down countless necks.

Sweeney Todd (Erik Oritz, 16) and Mrs. Lovett (Emma Hanson, 18).

Sweeney Todd (Erik Oritz, 16) and Mrs. Lovett (Emma Hanson, 18).

So, ready for a shave?

Don't worry, you don't have to have a stomach of steel to enjoy this show. While it's dark and crazy, it's also a great deal of fun (if you don't mind the whole eating human flesh thing).

This weekend is your last opportunity to catch a show, and you can buy tickets online or in person. Hope to see you there! Or else...

Show Dates:

  • March 23rd at 7 p.m.
  • March 24th at 2 p.m.
  • March 24th at 7 p.m.

Anna works at Live in Everett, helping manage the daily doings of the site. She was also once a drama stagehand in high school and got stuck on top of a piece of set during a show, causing her to hide in the shadows for the whole scene. True story.